As part of GM’s continuing series surveying the historic school buildings in Georgetown he turns today to the last remaining open public elementary school in Georgetown: Hyde School.
Anthony Hyde School
3219 O St.
Architect: Arthur B. Heaton
Current Owner: The District of Columbia
Hyde Elementary School was constructed in 1907. It was named after a Georgetown businessman and schools advocate Anthony J. Hyde who lived from 1810 to 1892.
Anthony Hyde was a leading proponent for the construction of the Curtis School which in 1875 was the first school building erected on the block between O and P streets just west of Wisconsin. Soon after the Curtis School was constructed, the Addison School was built right next to it.
By the turn of the century, these two school buildings were not enough for Georgetown’s school population. Thus on the same campus as Curtis and Addison, Hyde Elementary was built.
Hyde was built in the classic style of having eight classrooms on two floors. Each classroom held children ranging in grades from first through eighth. Its 15 foot ceilings and huge windows reflected the then dominant theory that ventilation was the best form of disease prevention.
The first principal of Hyde was Miss C.A. Ossire who lived at 2721 P St. The school served Georgetown’s White population. Despite its immediate proximity to Addison and Curtis, for the first several decades of its existence, Hyde was a separate school. However, by the 1920’s the DC government started to push for larger schools. Thus by the late 20’s Hyde, Addison, and Curtis were merged into one school administration: Addison-Curtis-Hyde. The Hyde building handled the youngest grades (a role it still plays today), Addison handled the higher grades, and Curtis operated as a vocational school. Strength in unity with its neighbors has been Hyde’s saving grace throughout its existence (as will be seen below).
In the days before desegregation Addison-Curtis-Hyde was an underpopulated school. By the 1940’s the school had an average classroom population of 30, which was well below the city-wide average. The physical condition of the schools had deteriorated significantly. Addison was closed for being obsolete in 1944. Hyde and Curtis remained open but were not in very good shape. They linked up with the Jackson School on R St., which was itself under threat of closure due to under enrollment. Two years later, Curtis was closed and leased out to the Hebrew Academy. To survive, the Hyde-Jackson school linked up with the Corcoran school on 35th St. (Which is poetic in a way since Anthony Hyde was a close confidant of William Corcoran).
Sadly the beautiful Curtis School, designed by the great architect Aldoph Cluss was torn down in 1951:
While desegregation was the law by 1954, the truth was that the Georgetown schools remained mostly segregated for a while after that point. For the most part, African-American Georgetowners remained at Phillips-Wormley. As a result, Hyde came under yet another threat of closure. To ensure its survival, the school opened its doors in the late fifties to students from outside its district (what are now called “out of boundary” students).
By 1968 46% of Hyde students were African-American. This number jumped to 60% when the Phillips School was closed in 1969 and the Jackson School (which by then was almost only populated by bused students) was closed in 1970. With the decline of busing in the 70’s, the minority population at Hyde declined but has remained stable. Today Hyde enrolls roughly 40% African-American and 40% White students, with Asian and Hispanic students representing the remaining 20%.
Several years ago Hyde faced yet another threat of closure due to its small size and enrollment. Under the leadership of Principals Patrick Pope and his successor Anne Jenkins Jordan, the Hyde community was able to convince the DCPS to renovate the decrepit Addison building, which had sat empty for decades. The renovated Addison building would become the home of a special needs program as well as an expanded Hyde population. This ensures Hyde-Addison’s continued existence for the foreseeable future.
With the reopening of Addison, another page has been turned in the scrappy and resourceful story of Hyde Elementary. It’s one that all Georgetowners should be proud of.
And now that GM has got you all excited about the history and future of Hyde-Addison, why don’t you give a little back and come out to 12th Annual EcoFest this Friday! It’s an auction to benefit Hyde-Elementary being held at the beautiful Swedish Embassy. GM will have more information tomorrow about the fun and worthwhile event.
Finally, GM would like to profusely thank Kate Whitmore and the Hyde Elementary PTA for preparing the wonderful book “Hyde: A Centennial Celebration” from which GM obtained all the above information.